Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Tough Callings

God gave Mary a tough calling. 

Everything changed for her the day Gabriel showed up. But instead of resisting, questioning, or trying to gain more clarity, she responded with, 
"I am the Lord's servant. May everything you have said about me come true."
She would be misunderstood, called a liar and a lunatic for claiming to carry God's son, and scorned by her neighbors. That first Christmas, there were no friends and family celebrating the birth of this most precious of babies. She would be alone. With her new husband. In a dirty, musty stable. The only ones who did show up at the baby shower were a group of ragtag outcasts that I'm sure scared the living daylights out of Mary as they rushed in to sneak a peak of her newborn baby. 

Mary would surely fluctuate between fist pumping pride and confused embarrassment over her son's actions throughout his life. She wrestled with her desires to conform him to what she thought he should be and do. This new way of life, this new way of thinking and living… it was a lot to take in. 

And then, Mary would suffer more deeply than any one else besides Jesus himself as she watched in horror while they tore apart her son's body. The agony and grief she endured… all because she was "highly favored". 

We honor her today. But her life was far from honored at the time. It was hard. 

I want to learn that same humble posture from Mary:
"I am the Lord's servant. May everything you have said about me come true." 

  • Even when Your plan for my life looks different than what I had planned. 
  • Even when the road is tough and life isn't as fun as I was hoping. 
  • Even when other routes seem more relaxing, more scenic, more enjoyable.

I don't want to fight against it. I'll choose to embrace it. Your plan is always best. You make all things beautiful. You are working all this together for my good and Your glory.

This is the lesson I'm learning this Christmas season. Mary is yelling through a megaphone to me today. Her words leap off the page and across the ages and pierce my heart. "So, Stacie, God just threw you a curve ball? So it seems you're life may look different than what you had planned? I get that. I've been there. And here's what I learned: you don't get to choose your God ordained assignment, but you get to choose how you respond to it. Are you going to receive it with open hands and a humble heart? Or will you stomp your feet and throw up your arms in frustration? Receive it, Stacie. Receive it as a gift. When you do, you have no idea the amazing things God will do through your life. Don't resist. Receive."

Thank you, Mary, for being the picture of humble obedience to God's will. You're giving me courage today.
"I am the Lord's servant. May everything you have said about me come true."

Friday, December 12, 2014

Same Team

Recently I was thinking about the early relationship between Mary & Joseph. We don’t really know much about their feelings for each other. We know they were engaged to be married, and according to the times, it was an arranged marriage between a young, barely-entered-puberty, Mary to an older, able-to-provide-for-a-family, Joseph. We don’t know if they were attracted to each other or excited about the arrangement. They may have been, but it’s just as possible that there was some level of dread, especially on Mary’s part. 

And then enters the horribly upsetting news that Mary is pregnant, and Joseph knows it’s not his baby. I can only imagine the hurt, confusion, and betrayal Joseph must have felt, along with a heaping dose of anger. 

But then God showed up. An angel came to Joseph to reassure him of this miraculous conception. God supernaturally intervened which allowed Joseph to enter a covenant with Mary with a lot more confidence than if he was just relying on Mary’s word. 

Mary and Joseph were going to go through tremendous hardship together. God knew that. The angel didn’t show up to Mary’s parents or anyone else in their small hometown. No one else had confidence in the story they were telling. They were the town scandal. This child was seen as an illegitimate baby...Even though they did nothing wrong (and evidently most things right!) 

God wanted Joseph and Mary to be undoubtably on the same team. To have each other’s back. To be in each other’s corner. To defend each other’s honor and show each other love and respect when the harshness of the world crushed in all around them. They needed each other. 

I get that. I have seen the invaluable strength it provides when Andy and I are unified through a trial. When no one else understands what we’re going through. When judgements are passed and critics have their say. When life hurts and we don’t have good answers. 

We’ve been walking through a storm lately and, sometimes when we are in the thick of it, one of us will look at the other and say those two simple words, “Same team.” The comfort that brings is astounding. As he walks out the door for work and I have a crying baby in the high chair, a sink full of dishes, and a child who just drew a masterpiece on our hard wood floor, he looks in my eyes and says, “Same team.” 

And we both know exactly what that means that no matter what life throws at us, we will face it together. We will fight the problem, not each other. Our roles look different, but we are working toward the same end. We will not allow Satan to cause division. Even when we don’t know what to do to help or comfort the other, we are in each other’s corner. Even when I don’t understand his actions or he gets lost in my emotions, we both know with confidence that we are FOR each other. 

We are better together. Stronger together. So when we walk through storms, we will do it hand-in-hand, together. Same team. 

Friday, November 28, 2014

An Advent Resource: finding meaning amidst the chaos

I had an unwanted moment of self-revelation recently… I have begun to dread Christmas.

Really? Ugh! I hate that.

Christmas was always one of my favorite and most meaningful holidays. I have a thousand wonderful Christmas memories from childhood. Candlelight services on Christmas eve. Giddy anticipation. Stockings first, yummy brunch, then presents. Christmas music in the background and the smell of cinnamon rolls lingering in the air.

But, now, things are different. Well, they're actually quite similar; it's just my role has changed. Now, I'm the one buying and wrapping all the presents. I'm the one setting out all the decorations. I'm hosting parties and making the cinnamon rolls and trying to plan fun Christmas activities for our kids.

And somewhere in the midst of making it magical for everyone else, I've lost the wonder of it all for myself.

The dominate emotion I feel is no longer anticipation of Christmas, but relief when Christmas is over. And that's sad to me.

I want to anticipate His coming. I want to remember what a desperate and hopeless predicament mankind was stuck in until that silent night when Hope was born. I want to feel my own desperate need for this baby who split time and swept away darkness and made a way for redemption.

My life is in all kinds of need for Him right now. Some times we feel that more than others, and I'll just be honest, I feel it deeply. I need Him to surprise me with His presence the way He surprised the shepherds. I need to ponder Him in my heart the way Mary did. I need to go to ridiculous lengths to find Him the way the Wisemen did. I don't want to miss Jesus this Christmas.

This is the season of Advent. Anticipating something great. The arrival of something so important and significant that it changes everything. Yes, I think that's exactly what I need right now.

Last year we started a new tradition that I loved but think we will continue to tweak. We did a "Jesse Tree" last year and told a different Bible story each night that led up to the coming of Jesus. I liked the concept a lot, but the thing I want to tweak are the selected stories and how they are told. My goal is to tell Bible stories that all link directly to our need for a coming Savior.

Andy found this Advent resource and so I think we'll start here…with God's perfect creation, how we messed it up, and how He paved a way back.

I'd love to hear ideas from your family: How do you keep things simple enough to enjoy Christmas and meaningful enough that you don't miss Jesus?

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Suck it up, Princess

I thought about starting this post by saying that I've been going through a tough time lately…there are some personal challenges in my life that are really weighing me down. But then I thought, I'm pretty sure anyone at anytime in their life could make a statement like that.

The challenges change during different seasons of life.

  • In college, I jammed my schedule SO full with classes, work, practicum, and ministry responsibilities that I could barely find time to eat or sleep.
  • When first married, my whole life got turned upside down with a new husband, new home, new city, and new job. I suffered through an undiagnosed depression for over a year. 
  • When we had our first child…
  • When we started South Bay Church...
  • When we adopted...

Some difficulties undoubtedly outweigh others. And, intermingled with the pain, every season has it's share of joys.

It's the dance of beauty and heartache. The place where laughter and tears merge. When fist-pumping victory in one area is tainted with failure in another. That moment when a breathtaking sunset is interrupted by a swarm of gnats.

We don't get to separate the two. They are always there…together.

And it is up to me to see the artistry in it all. To choose gratitude over pity. To cling to faith over despair. To believe truth instead of lies.

What I say to myself and about my situation can drastically affect, not only the outcome, but also how I walk through it. I have to surgically remove the lies I'm believing and replace them with what I know to be true.

  • I am blessed. (Ephesians 1:3)
  • God has given me everything I need for life and godliness. (2 Peter 1:3)
  • His grace is more than enough. (James 4:6)
  • If I ask, He will give me wisdom. (James 1:5)
  • He has a plan and somehow this will work out for my good and His glory is I will stay the course. (Jeremiah 29:11, Romans 8:28)

And then, some of the most inspirational words I'm saying to myself right now are: "Suck it up, Princess." 

I don't have time to wallow around in hopelessness. I've got three kids who are counting on me. I'm the only Mommy they get so I better put my hand to the plow and try my best. I've got laundry to do, meals to prepare, bills to pay, and scraped knees to bandage. I have work to do and I am stronger than I think I am. So I will brush the tears off my face (or sometimes just let them flow) and I will keep moving. I will suck it up and believe that when I do what only I can do, God will step in and do what only He can do.

Self-reflection has it's place...But you might as well be sorting the laundry while you at it.

So today, identify the lies that you are believing about yourself or your circumstance and then replace them with truth. You gotta suck it up, Princess. The world is counting on you to show up. To bring your best. Keep fighting through the gnats to dance in the sunset. I'll meet you there.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014


Wish that I… 

...had a box that could keep every time, 

a remote to rewind back to every sweet moment we've shared,

 because time will fade memories.

 Oh you shimmer, you glimmer, you shine. 

Every breath that you take matches mine.

 When you smile all the world come to life

and, my Love, i would give you mine.

Click here to watch a 3 1/2 minute video that I will forever cherish.

(Photos by my talented friend, Nikki. Check her out here.)

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

A letter to my long lost friend!

Dear Blog of mine,

I've missed you. I think about you often and have so much to tell you. I wish we had the chance to catch up more often. It seems that the busier I am, the less busy you are. Funny how that works.

I've been wanting to tell you about how much I delight in that precious baby girl who is sleeping upstairs right now. There are so many pictures I want to show you. So many expressions and milestones and firsts. She is the light in my eyes, and holding her has carried me through some rocky patches this year. It seems that at least once a day, I am overwhelmed again by a wave of gratitude for this most precious gift. I haven't intended to keep her from you!

I've also read some books that I wanted to tell you about. Learned some life lessons. Made some memories with my boys. All of these are things that I've wanted to share with you, my long-lost Blog. But alas, I have been so busy living my life that I have not found the time to write about it!

I really want to do better. You are so dear to me. I find in you moments of reflection and quietness of soul that has been hard to come by these days. Let me assure you, there have been no large quantities of quietness around the Wood household these days.

So, my sweet friend who is always eager to hear about all of my antics, I will try to be more loyal. I am working to arrange my life to grab a cup of tea and sit down with you more often. You have been dearly missed and not at all forgotten.


Saturday, July 12, 2014

Minivan VS. SUV

We are a Swagger-Wagon family. Although I’ve always felt like you voluntarily forfeit all rights to coolness as soon as you transition to the world of minivans, we took the plunge several years ago. I’ve been known to look with a tinge of jealousy on large families who drive SUVs. All the necessary space in such a cooler package.  

Well, now I’ve seen how the other side lives.

A few weeks ago, our van was tail-ended and it is still in the shop getting repaired. In the meantime, the insurance company provided us with a Chevy Tahoe to drive. Alright, now! Whose got their swag back?

So I’m here today to offer a little compare and analysis. I’ve now seen the grass on both sides of the fence and I’ll tell you (from my opinion) which one is greener.

My favorite thing about the Tahoe is taking it on dates with Andy. It makes me feel all fancy and hot. It does not give off the same feeling of “Mom-and-Dad-are-going-out-for-dinner” that a minivan leaves you with. The seats are big and spacious. And you feel like you would probably “win” in any run-in with another vehicle. Plus, I’m fairly certain that people are intimidated of perhaps we’re drug dealers or gang members. And, you know, sometimes a little respect ain’t all that bad.

However, the negatives abound. 
  • It is a beast to park, especially in the Bay Area where they try to promote clean air vehicles by making all parking spaces the size of a SMART car. 
  • The doors open wide...very wide, as opposed to sliding like a minivan. Not only is this problematic with our postage stamp size parking spaces, but little boys don’t really care if your Mercedes is parked next to us. They will mindlessly bang any car door in their way, thus the reason I have the child-lock on their door so they can only exit upon assistance. 
  • There is no storage space. Groceries, hello? If I am in need of this many seats in a vehicle, that means I also have that many mouths to feed. Strollers? Beach toys? Luggage? “Here kids, hold this on your lap for me.” (An XL edition would be imperative were we ever to buy one of these things.)
  • It takes two strong arms to close the trunk. I cannot be multi-tasking or holding anything else in my hands when I close the trunk. No, this activity requires full engagement. And I  have to pull down on that thing as zealously as those people spin the wheel on “The Price Is Right”. 
  • The third row does not exude kid-friendly accessibility. The seat on the middle row must laboriously be pulled forward each time we get in and out of the car. As a mom trying to quickly squeeze in an errand or two between naptimes, those are precious minutes lost. Our kids have resorted to climbing over the middle seat instead. 

It has been fun driving around my Monster Truck for the past couple weeks. I believe I may have achieved a level of coolness that I've yet to experience in my adult life. My neighbors probably think I keep parking it in my driveway just to brag, but the reality is it won’t fit in our garage. It’s just that big. 

So, I must say, I’m kinda looking forward to getting my minivan back with it’s sliding doors and trunk that can open and close with a simple push of a button. I realize that my lameness will automatically increase as soon as we make the trade, but for me, convenience outranks coolness in this stage of life. 

Monday, June 30, 2014

And then we ate ice cream for dinner...

Most nights I like to "re-set" the house before I go to bed. Toys stored away, dishes washed, couch pillows back in place. It seems silly, at times, to do this because I know that first thing tomorrow morning, I will stepping over toys, have a sink overflowing with dishes, and won't be able to find the missing couch pillows. But, I like order. And a nightly reset gives me the illusion (mirage?) that I still have a bit of it left in my life. 

Order is nice. Routines are helpful. As a rule, that is my preferred modus operandi. 

But every one like me needs a friend like her.

The text comes to me, "Hola Amiga! You want to go to the beach on Wednesday?" 

Why, yes, I think I do. 

My other friend, Dawn, (who, like me, is also a scheduler/planner/orderly type) decides to throw caution to the wind and join us.

No naptimes for the Littles. No laundry or cleaning or meals getting made that day. No Daddy's to help us carry our gear or supervise our seven children. But no worries. We've got this. (We wore our capes under our clothes.)

It took us 2 hours (instead of the predicted 45 minutes) to get from my house to sitting on a blanket by the beach. But we would not be swayed by the traffic jam or deterred by the long trek to the bathroom. Dawn & I both just brushed off our tattered mom-pride as we picked up our strollers that we accidentally flipped (with babies inside) because we loaded them with too much stuff. We would have our beach day no matter what. 

The hike from the sidewalk through the sand to the ocean was a long one. I dragged my big ol' BOB stroller loaded with a baby and all the fixin's. A beach umbrella. A portable exersaucer. Blankets, towels, sand toys, diapers... 

And then there was Dawn. As I trudged through the sand I kept looking back at my friend who had 22 month old Tyson to encourage along. She was so weighted down by their bags that she couldn't carry him. By the time they made it, she said, "I feel like we just spent 40 years wandering through the wilderness."

But somehow, the stress seems minimized when you're with friends. 

And in between yelling for the big boys not to go out too far and nursing Karis and comforting Dawn's Littles who were not huge fans of the beach, we talked. And laughed. And did life together. Because it's better that way.

After our shoulders had been kissed by the sun and all the children had as much sand on the inside of their swimsuits as the outside, we decided to go get a treat. A special treat at a special place I knew about. So we begin the long journey of rinsing sand toys, shaking out blankets, collapsing umbrellas and exersaucers, and hiking across the sand. Back through the wilderness.

On the other side of wilderness were showers. Cold showers. And I'm not quite sure what all the onlookers thought as I held my son under the water while he laughed and screamed and tried hard to run away. 

Once everyone was pottyed and dry clothed, we loaded our gear back into the car, buckling 7 kids into carseats. We drove to our long awaited treat spot, unloaded 7 kids, and walked up to the door to find it closed. They closed at 6:00. My phone said 6:01. 

Dawn's kids were too tired and young to be obsessed with the treat, but there was no way Lina and I were getting off the hook that easy. Thank goodness, Lina knew of another great ice cream shop.

So then we ate ice cream for dinner...

Eat up kids. This is dinner.

There were no high chairs at this joint so I held Karis in my lap while feeding her with one hand and eating an ice cream cone with the other. The thought ran through my mind, "Sometimes I impress myself." But then I had a flashback of the flipped stroller with Karis laying helplessly on her back. Ok, ok, not too impressed.

Lina said, "I'm glad we did this."

Me, "Yeah, it was such a fun day."

Lina laughed and said, "It's funny how so many things can go wrong and we still think it was such a great day."

Yep, and (cue Jack Johnson song), it's always better when we're together.

Laundry and dishes and couch pillows can wait for tomorrow. Some days you just gotta get to the beach.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Family Friendly Activities at Lake Tahoe

I've had several people ask me what we like to do when we visit Lake Tahoe in the summer time. So I decided to put a list together of some family-friendly activities that we've enjoyed. I would LOVE your suggestions as well because I know we have not found all of the secret treasures there!

1- Where to stay
We prefer North Lake Tahoe as opposed to South Lake Tahoe. North Lake Tahoe feels more natural and undeveloped whereas South Lake Tahoe is more commercial. They are both great and, in some ways, South Lake Tahoe may have more "to do", but we just really like the feel of Tahoe City. 

We love to lodge somewhere in/around Squaw Valley and hang out in Tahoe City (which is really no "city" at all). This past time we found a cabin on the Truckee River through AirBnB for a great price...less than what we would have paid for a hotel room for our family of 5. 

There are also tons of places to camp at Lake Tahoe. Every time I talk to someone who likes camping, I get so inspired to want to try. It really does sound like such a wonderful experience, especially for children. But, truth be told, Andy and I just aren't much for camping. We're more the "glamping" type, with hot showers, real beds, and a toilets that don't require a flashlight. :-/

The Truckee River where our cabin was located

2- Hit the Beach
Tahoe City has an awesome park called "Commons Beach". There's a free parking lot so loading/unloading is simple. There is a beach where the kids can play in the lake (it's super shallow for a long way), a grassy area perfect for soccer, baseball, and picnics, and a great playground complete with swings, a rock wall, and jungle gym. 

Commons Beach is pretty much our "Headquarters" whenever we go to Tahoe. We can literally stay there for 5 hours at a time without getting bored. There are typically other kids to play with and so much variety of activity that the kids are endlessly entertained. 

We take a picnic, blankets, sand toys, a bat & wiffle balls, a soccer ball, changes of clothes for the kids, and a book for me & Andy. 

3- Ice Cream at Gear & Grind Cafe
As a mid-afternoon treat, we will sometimes walk from Commons Beach up the path to Gear & Grind Cafe. It's just a small little coffee shop with a nice selection of ice cream and treats. There's a beautiful path along the lake to walk between the Cafe and Commons Beach.

4- Hike to Emerald Bay 
This is a family friendly trail that even fairly young kids can do. It's about a mile one way and you'll be breathing heavy on your way back up, but it's not too steep and the path is wide. (Our boys are 5 1/2 and 7 1/2 and they did much better this time than when they did the same hike 10 months ago.) There's a beautiful beach at the bottom with a few cool areas to explore. 

We also continued along the trail up to Eagle Falls which was less than a mile further. It's gorgeous. Andy & the boys ventured out beyond the guardrails right into the waterfall.

On the way back down from Eagle Falls, we stopped by the gift shop and got everyone an ice cream treat.

5- Rent a kayak 
Andy and the boys have done this the last 2 times we have visited Lake Tahoe. It's about $45 for one hour of fun. The boys feel like they've had a big adventure out there trying to steer and paddle around! There are some other fun, adventurous activities that we've seen but not yet tried such as a ropes course or rafting. Maybe we'll do those another time.

6- Take out instead of dine in
This past trip, we stumbled upon something great. We typically eat breakfast at the hotel/cabin (we always try to find a place with a kitchenette), pack a picnic to take with us, and then eat dinner out. But all the parents out there can testify that it is not the most relaxing experience to try to eat dinner at a restaurant with 3 tired children. So one night we thought, "Let's do take out."

Andy & I wanted Thai food and I knew the boys wouldn't. So we picked up some delicious food from Thai Kitchen in Tahoe City and a movie from Redbox. I made the boys a hot dog back where we were staying and we all enjoyed dinner and a movie in our PJs. SO much more relaxing than trying to eat out! Another great restaurant that we enjoy is Fireside Pizza in Squaw Valley.

Caedmon & Sammy, feeling like they just conquered the world

Here's to family vacations, making memories, and enjoying the beauty of God's creation! If you are familiar with Lake Tahoe, please leave a comment with some of your favorite things to do there or places to eat. 

Monday, June 23, 2014

Vacation Bloopers & Gratitude

Family vacations always take on a unique personality that is impossible to forecast. Regardless of how thoroughly you plan, no vacation is 100% wrinkle-free. How we respond in those moments has the potential to enhance or ruin the memory. 

Last week our family enjoyed a getaway to Lake Tahoe...truly one of the most beautiful places on earth. It's a huge attraction in the winter for all those who love winter sports and a snowy wonderland. We have yet to get up there in the winter (which we hope to do someday), but we absolutely LOVE Tahoe in the summer! The lake is so blue it looks aqua, the natural landscape surrounding the lake is bursting with life, and the snow peaked mountains hover over as a physical barrier between us and the outside world. 

About an hour in to our drive to Tahoe, my eyes bugged out of my head and I said, "The Pack-N-Play!" Oh. My. Gosh. Kinda an important thing to remember when traveling with a 7 month old who already has major sleep issues. Andy suggested stopping at a Target to buy one, but I shot down that idea right away, informing him that those things are, like, $150. 

"I'll figure something out. We can make do." 

When I saw that little cubby hole under the desk, I naively thought, "Oh, this is perfect. I'll just make her a little pallet down here and she'll feel all cozy in a space just her size." Not so much. Our sweet Karis is not in the running for any awards associated with "Most Flexible Baby". After a nightmare of a first night, my hero-husband found a children's consignment store in town where we bought a pack-n-play for $32. Possibly the best $32 we spent all week. Although Karis wasn't completely keen on the pack-n-play either, it was much better.

After an awesome (albeit sleepy) first morning at the park, we ran by the grocery store and then headed back to our cabin only to get tail-ended pretty bad. It was the worst car wreck any of us had ever been in and it shook us up a bit. The guy behind us clipped our right bumper which pushed us in to oncoming traffic. Thankfully, we were able to get back over to our side of the road and avoid a head-on collision. With hands shaking, we thanked Jesus that there were no injuries.

That was a bit of a rough start to our family vacation...Very little sleep the first night followed by a car wreck. But I can't even count how many times that week that Andy and I mentioned how thankful we were that we were all okay. The car wreck reminded us of how fragile life is and it framed our whole vacation with gratitude.

The final day of our vacation, we lounged on a blanket at a beautiful park overlooking the lake. While I played with Karis and watched my boys climb rock walls and swing across monkey bars, a family walked by pushing an oversized stroller with their handicapped son. The child looked to be about Caedmon's age. In my heart I whispered a prayer for strength and endurance for those parents as they courageously love and raise their son. That child is a blessing to be sure, but their lives undoubtedly face difficulties that I know nothing of. Again, it helped me remember what a gift it is that my rambunctious and rowdy boys have healthy bodies. 

I said to our family this week, "You know, we are among the most blessed people on earth." There is always something for which to be thankful. Sometimes the blessings are as bright as neon flashing lights, and other times you have to look under rocks to find them. But they are there. Let's look around today and remember to give thanks. 

Every good and perfect gift is from above. James 1:17

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Family Time

We have been blessed with a ton of time with our extended family the past month and a half. 35 out of 49 days to be exact. That is always a huge gift to us since we live so far from all of our family. And, of course, any time you're with out of town family, that's the perfect time to eat a ton of desserts and experience all the fun things your city offers but we rarely take advantage of. 

We visited the Monterey Bay Aquarium and drove the Golden Gate Bridge. We played tag in front of Coit Tower and tried in vain to keep our food from flying away while we gobbled Gott's burgers at the ever-windy Ferry Building. We took more than one trip down Lombard Street and played "Papa-Pitch baseball" at Ortega Park. We hiked, swam, and had wrestling matches in our living room. We ate an obscene amount of ice cream because you have to try Cream when you come here. And at night, after the kids were asleep, we talked. 

Andy's mom, Marcy, came in January to meet Karis and then again in April to take care of the boys while Andy & I had a getaway (with Karis!). Two visits in 3 months. I told her I could get used to that!

Andy's brother, Josh, and his wife, Jamie, came in town at the beginning of May.

Andy's dad, Pete, and stepmom, Denise, came in town at the end of May.

We flew to Florida to spend time with my family at the beginning of June. Picture above are nine of the eleven grandchildren on that side of the family. 
Jonathan (8), Caedmon (7), Caleb (5), Sammy (5), Drew (4), Taylor (2), Daniel (18 months), Luke (18 months), Karis (7 months) 

Here's Karis with the other two grandkids from that side of the fam. Jacob & McCoy are my brother's 9 month old twins. They are posing as Karis' body guards in this picture!

Getting time with extended family (especially family that lives clear across the country) requires spending a little extra money, breaking normal rhythms, and some planning. But these times are the richness of life...what memories are made of and how relationships grow. I'm so thankful for the gift of this time together.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Summer Reading

I always get motivated to read in the summer. Maybe it's because I don't have to think about homeschool so my mind is a little more free. I think this year my motivation is due, at least in part, to pure desperation. I feel like we are reaching a new stage with our parenting and running into some barriers that we don't know how to handle. So, I feel very motivated to put some new tools in my parenting tool belt. Thus, I am devoting my whole summer reading program to parenting books this year! (Exciting, right?)

In case you are also in need of some good parenting books, these are the books that I'm considering reading. I'm sure I won't get to all of them, but I'm going to give it my best effort.

Watch out, kids! Your mom is about to be armed & dangerous!